The gritty desert sand clung to her hair and brushed lightly over her face as she trudged across the burning ground. Wearily, she dropped gingerly to the ground next to a spring, her right hand spread protectively over her belly.
“What will become of us now?” she wondered.
The soft whisper of sand gliding over the ground seemed to be the only reply until an unfamiliar voice asked, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”
Hagar shifted her body to see who was speaking. Lifting a hand over her eyes, she looked up and saw an angel of the Lord.
“She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”
The angel of the Lord said, “Return to your mistress and submit to her. I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.” (Genesis 16.7-11)
Hagar, amazed by what she had beheld, called the Lord, El Roi, which means, “You are a God Who Sees Me.” The well by which she sat was called Beer-lahai-roi, meaning, “The well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” Her son would be named Ishmael, meaning, “God hears.”
Hagar recognized the significance of being addressed by God. In those ancient times, neither a servant nor a woman were of great value. To be noticed by God—to have her situation seen and understood—was such a foreign concept to someone in her station.
Within each one of us is a longing to be seen. It is this very longing that makes social media such a powerful medium. Every post offers a glimpse into our daily life. We can share our favorite foods, our cute pets, our cutting complaints, our magical moments. Better still, we get to control how much we reveal, making our lives look “practically perfect in every way”! Yet does anybody—on social media or in our day-to-day—really see us as we are? Do they see our grueling work (or, at times, embarrassing laziness)? Do they see the tears? The frustrations? The joys? The longings?
During my fourth year of college, I had a professor who expressed shocked disappointment at my eventual wish to be a “stay-at-home mom.” He looked incredulously at me and said, “You will be so bored! Ambitious people like you can’t be stay-at-home moms.”
He was wrong about one thing—boredom isn’t the issue. If you’ve ever cared for young children, you know that the only moment of delicious boredom available is when they are sleeping—and that is the optimal time to complete additional work! The real challenges of being a full-time caregiver lie in the obscurity, the isolation, and the general lack of recognition.
If we aren’t careful, those difficulties will make us bitter, selfish, and resentful.
It isn’t just stay-at-home moms that feel this sting either. Singles often feel isolated from their married friends. Dads who work long hours may feel unappreciated by their families. Police officers grow weary of being treated like the dirt under foot. Teachers really wish people would understand how much of their own money is put back into their classroom. Elderly people ache for someone to return their calls or letters.
No matter who you are, you have felt stings nobody else seems to understand. You have felt unnoticed, unwanted, or unappreciated.
He counts every tear drop, hears every hidden sob, appreciates every painstaking labor.
Do I want Him to see a heart full of bitterness or a heart that continues to pour out love, even when it hurts?
Would I rather be seen by forgetful humans or a God who remembers?
God Sees and Will Reward
In Matthew 6, Jesus addresses the value of doing your work for the Lord. He advises them to do their giving, praying, and fasting as quietly and secretly as possible so that the reward we seek won’t be an earthly one. Three times in the passage He says, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Immediately after all the discussion about trying to avoid worldly acclaim, Jesus goes on to talk about treasure in heaven versus treasure on earth. Not all treasure on earth is silver and gold. For some, treasure is that 15 minutes of fame.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6.19-21, ESV)
I know that on Judgement day, when I stand before God, I want to hear him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Hearing those words will be the greatest reward, outshining any and all recognition this earth could offer.
I easily forget this long-term goal in the face of short-term grievances.
Today, you may feel unseen, unheard, and unappreciated. You may feel as though you have sacrificed everything short of your sanity—and even that seems to be slipping! In these moments of deep sadness, remember Jesus in the garden. He wept while His disciples slept. His pain went unseen by His closest friends, and yet He still walked willingly to the cross for them (and us!) Jesus placed God’s will ahead of His feelings and the reward surpassed all that we can imagine.
When we offer ourselves and our efforts to God, people may never see or appreciate it, but God sees.
Recently, while I was moving books and furniture to paint, I rediscovered a piece of construction paper I had tucked safely within the pages of one of my old books. The drawing is definitely not Picasso and the writing isn’t Shakespeare, yet this little scrap of paper brought me such joy when I received it the first time, and when I looked at it again yesterday. The one line of text read, “I love you mome.” (“Mome” is how my son used to spell “Mommy” in kindergarten.) I treasure this little scrap of paper not for its earthly value, but because of the love behind the gift. God sees and treasures our work in a similar way. The world may not see any value in our efforts, but when work as unto the Lord, He cherishes our offering.
You serve a God who sees you—the good works and the weak whims—and loves you infinitely beyond any earthly love.
Keep pressing on to know Him and serve Him. His love and recognition are worth more than anything we possess on earth.